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AZ teens could start driving at 15-years-old

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 21:42:42-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - State lawmakers could soon consider a bill that would lower the age for teenagers to get their learner's permit to 15-years-old.
Right now, Arizona teens cannot get their permit until they are 15-and-a-half. 
Rep. Kelly Townsend of Mesa is behind House Bill 2080, which is expected to be presented next week.
Townsend said she believes it will be beneficial to give young drivers a full year with their permit before getting an actual license. 
Tucson's AAA spokesperson Valerie Vinyard said she believes teenagers could benefit from more time behind the wheel before getting a license, but she does not think the age should be lowered. 
"Their judgment and reasoning isn't fully developed yet," said Vinyard about 15-year-olds. 
Vinyard pointed to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that found lowering the permit age to 15 would increase deadly crashes by 7%.
Owner of Stop and Go Driving School, Mark Campbell, who sees hundreds of student drivers every week, said he believes the age someone should start driving is dependent on the individual.
"Just because you're legal to get it, doesn't necessarily mean you're mature enough to handle the responsibility of operating a 5,000 pound piece of equipment," said Campbell. "Are there students mature enough to do that, or young people mature enough to do that? Absolutely. Are there some that aren't even at 17, 18, 19? Absolutely."
Campbell said the Department of Motor Vehicles is working on a compromise where teens who wish to get their permit at 15-years-old would have to take 30 hours of classes at a driving school beforehand, rather than just the written test that is required now.